Caucus thoughts

I’ve been waiting for some pundit to say what I think is obvious: a black man will get more votes in a public vote, like a caucus or a poll, than he will in a secret ballot. It’s just easier for those suppressed racist feelings to come out when there’s no one watching you vote. So I think it was good for Obama that Iowa—despite its overwhelmingly white population—was the first state in the campaign for the nomination.

Of course, one could say the same thing about suppressed sexist feelings and voting for a woman. But my sense is that Clinton will lose fewer votes to secret sexism than Obama will to secret racism. I know that Shirley Chisholm famously said she faced more discrimination for being a woman than for being black, but I think the balance today is tipped the other way.

On the Republican side, the pundit consensus that McCain was the big winner in Iowa is interesting, but I think it’s heavily influenced by the media’s love of their ol’ straight-talking maverick. The thinking goes like this:

  1. Huckabee can’t win the nomination because the GOP establishment hates him.
  2. The only thing the GOP establishment hates more than Huckabee is a loser. Romney put everything into Iowa and came in a distant second, so he’s now persona non grata to the Republican kingmakers.
  3. Giuliani finished lower than Paul (see GOP attitude toward losers above).
  4. Thompson campaigns like the guest of honor at a wake.
  5. By a process of elimination, McCain is only establishment candidate standing.

While it’s hard to argue with points 1-4, I still can’t see McCain as the candidate. Many rank-and-file Republicans hate McCain, because they see him as some sort of liberal traitor to the party. It doesn’t matter how stupid this attitude is, it’s real, and I just don’t know how McCain gets the votes. Especially in South Carolina, what with his black baby and all.

So where does that leave the Republicans? Damned if I know. Maybe Romney comes back without party support, spending his own money until he gets enough votes to erase the memory of his Iowa embarrassment. Maybe the establishment somehow forces the rank-and-file to accept McCain (Chris Matthews will be all atingle). It will be interesting to watch, however it works out.